But Rossi is ‘very worried’ about Bagnaia’s tyre choice after the #63 and Ducati team-mate Jack Miller were the only riders to pick the hard front in similar cool temperatures at Misano… and both crashed out.
In Bagnaia’s case he tumbled from the lead with just four laps to go, ending not only his home victory hopes but world championship chances.
Afterwards, Rossi made clear he felt Bagnaia should have gone for the medium front, joking that – while he successfully ‘hypnotised’ Bagnaia into avoiding any ‘strange’ tyre choices at Aragon, where he won his first MotoGP race – it clearly hadn’t worked at Misano.
Bagnaia has been fast on both the medium and hard rear tyres in Portimao, with both options possible for Sunday’s race, when temperatures could again be borderline.
“I’m very, very worried about his tyre choice, yes!” Rossi smiled. “Because at the end of practice he tested the medium and he was very fast also with the medium!
“I’m always worried about his tyre choice, I hope that this time he makes a good choice because anyway he is fast with both. And I think he’s the faster man of the weekend, like in Misano.
“So I think that he can win. But he needs to make the right tyre choice. I will speak with him during this evening!”
“Today I tried medium and hard on the rear and the feeling is very similar,” Rossi added of his own tyre decision. “The forecast is the same as today, we will race at 1pm here [before Moto2] and I think that it’s very open, but we can use the hard.
“I’m happy if I can use the hard, if we have enough temperature, because I feel a bit better with the hard, especially for the pace. I am more constant.”
Rossi was speaking after qualifying 16th on the ultra-close timesheets for what will be his penultimate MotoGP race.
“Today for me is better than yesterday because already from this morning I was a bit more competitive. But especially this afternoon we improve the balance of the bike and especially we improve the feeling with the tyres,” he said.
“In Qualifying 1 I was able to do a decent lap and I will start from 16th position, which is better than my position in the last races. Also I was able to ride well, I mean I am less than one-second from the pole position. Nine tenths. The problem is that you are 16th.
“Also in FP4 my pace was less than one-second slower than the top guys, but you are 17-18th! Now it’s like this. But I am happy with the feeling of the bike. We need to improve; in two or three places I have a bit too much understeer, but I am not so bad also about the pace.”
Insisting race results are still important to him, the Petronas Yamaha rider is aiming to repeat his top ten finish from Misano.
“The result is very important for the enjoyment! Very crucial. Because if you have a decent result, if you are able to make a good race, you enjoy a lot more because it means that you feel good with the bike and can push,” he said.
“When you are on track with the other guys, you feel that you are fast in some places and so this is the best way to have fun.
“In Misano it was not too bad. We need to try to take some points. I think it’s possible and it depends very much on the type of the race and I think also a good target is to try to arrive in the top ten.”